Should You Consider a Branded Shipping Box?

January 28, 2014


When I get home and see a box on my driveway, I immediately look for that well-known arrow/smile to see if it’s my long-awaited Amazon order. (Ok, maybe not long-awaited since I have Prime, but it sometimes feels like it.) As the garage door closes behind me, I’m already excited to tear open the box and start watching my new movie or playing my new game or whatever I happened to order from Amazon this time.

Chances are, you’re familiar with the Amazon shipping box, too. The company was one of the first major eCommerce merchants to set their boxes apart with a specific brand identity. When you see one of these custom boxes on your doorstep, you know exactly what’s waiting for you.

The proliferation of online retailers, as well as the explosion of monthly “box” or subscription-service companies, has led to more and more of these custom shipping boxes.

As an online retailer, you may worry that the cost of custom shipping boxes is too high. Luckily, “the cost of printing has minimal impact on box cost on any order size,” says Dennis Salazar, President and Co-Founder of Salazar Packaging, a packaging consulting company.

“Utilizing a flexographic process results in a much more affordable cost because the copy is pre-printed on the board before it’s made into boxes. The custom printed boxes are custom manufactured to order, so there are no stock or standard sizes. This also means you can get the exact size you need, not just something that is ‘close and available’”, notes Salazar.

When ordering custom boxes for your business, there are a few things that you really should make sure that you do.

According to Salazar, to utilize custom-branded shipping boxes efficiently:

  • Use them as a marketing tool; the design matters, and these are meant to have you stand out from the crowd and show that you’re an upscale company.
  • Use only a few box sizes. Not only is this one of our regular shipping tips since it’s easier to fulfill your orders with fewer box sizes, but you’ll cut down on the cost of branding your boxes.
  • If you already use custom-sized boxes, having them branded is a small jump for a big win with your customers.
Loot Crate's August 2013 Box

Loot Crate’s August 2013 Box

Loot Crate, a ShipStation customer, celebrated its one-year anniversary in August, and has over 10,000 subscribers who love the company’s custom boxes (and the cool stuff that’s in them). “We didn’t want to have just some generic shipping box – we wanted to create an emotional connection,” says Chris Davis, CEO of Loot Crate, a monthly subscription box company for gamers.

Loot Crate’s corrugated shipping box is “a direct reflection on our brand. It shows our attention to detail; it’s really cool and sleek-looking (black exterior and bright orange interior), and is a key part of what we do,” notes Davis.

Loot Crate's Custom Shipping Box

The box was developed internally and directly represents the company’s desire to connect with their customers.

There are thousands of videos and photos documenting “The Unboxing” of each month’s Loot Crate. Once the 20th rolls around and the shipping notifications come out, #LootCrate on Twitter starts to pop up more and more often. And this is all part of the strategy behind the service and the box. “It’s more than just the items you’re getting, it’s the whole experience,” offers Davis. “We designed the box internally, and intentionally included ways for our subscribers to connect with us and with each other. The sides of our shipping box have Loot Crate hashtags, and we added a Konami code (probably one of the most memorable experiences for those of us that played Contra–or at least heard about it) on the bottom, as well as a QR code on the back. The codes take users to “secret” video and content.

The inside of the box, an area where most companies ignore, is an important piece of the branding strategy.

Inside of a Loot Crate Box

The inside of a Loot Crate box

When a subscriber opens the box, they see “Tips for the Perfect Unboxing” and are encouraged to “Document, Share and Enjoy.” There’s a strong community who have taken those thousands of photos and videos of the boxes and the contents of the boxes and shared them across their social networks, which adds to the branding and marketing efforts of the company. Loot Crate also offers contests for these photos and videos, taking the activities one step further.

If you’re on the fence about getting custom packaging, my recommendation is to do it. The experience it offers for your customers can easily be worth the cost. You already sell a fantastic product that people want and are buying, so why not show it off with spiffy packaging?

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